Thursday, April 14, 2011
Can the Arizona Historical Society even manage an adobe hacienda?
The prior post on this blog reviewed a Tucson Weekly article about a dispute over the historic C.O. Brown House. A group of concerned Tucson citizens has now started a blog about the mismanagement of this very historic downtown structure, reportedly the second oldest house in Tucson. They are concerned about the continued deterioration of the adobe structure. As they tell the story, the AHS apparently leased the building to El Centro Cultural de las Americas for $1 a year and then walked away as El Centro allowed the building to crumble. The blog is posted at http://cobrowntucson.wordpress.com/
The April 13th post on the blog cited above states in part:
Arts Marketplace, along with this company of supporters, worked together to create a plan to restore the C.O. Brown House, activate the space and open it to the community. This plan, along with the support of city and state officials, architects, artists, educators, citizens and community leaders, was presented to both El Centro and the Arizona Historical Society with a sincere request to join them at the table.
El Centro responded with an eviction notice for Arts Marketplace, along with a stunning response from Anne Woosley, Executive Director of the AHS. She defiantly indicated that she would not discuss any issues regarding El Centro and the C.O. Brown House, not now, not ever. Such a bold statement from a state official on our dime, wouldn’t you say? Perhaps together we can compel Ms. Woosley to do better.
That is no surprise to folks in Phoenix who have been working to save at least portions of the top rated and historic Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in Phoenix. Using political connections and lobbyists, the AHS gained control of that museum in early 2010. A unique historic and scientific mineral collection, historic one of a kind mining artifacts, popular K-12 earth science education programs, and a historic building all appear to be threatened.
The AHS won’t talk to the mining and mineral museum supporters either. Even the stones are being stonewalled.
Perhaps the AHS motto (Saving Arizona's History Since 1864) is a hoax. Perhaps a state agency that, according to state statutes, reports to no one and is encumbered with 31 self-elected board members, isn’t capable of doing anything properly
Obviously, the AHS is responsible for the preservation of the C.O Brown house. If El Centro is not managing or preserving it properly, then the AHS is should be held accountable. Perhaps the state of Arizona should consider transferring the property to a more responsible agency.
Note: According to the AHS lease agreement (posted on the Brown House blog) El Centro can only lease to nonprofits that will promote certain cultural activities. The Tucson Weekly article however, states that one of the spaces is used by “photographer” Mike Weber. That individual apparently operates or has operated a for profit company that did subcontract work (in conjunction for the AHS) for Rio Nuevo. The lead consultant company under contract with Rio Nuevo was Desert Archeology, Inc. Weber apparently was or is affiliated with Estrada-Weber Cultural Connections of 40 West Broadway Road in Tucson. The address of the C.O. Brown house is 40 West Broadway Road. Perhaps innocent, but worthy of review.